MLS just put out an interesting announcement... (I shortened the press release below.)
MLS, U.S. Soccer Create Professional Referee Organization
New organization will manage referee program for professional leagues in United States and Canada
NEW YORK (Tuesday, March 6, 2012) – Today Major League Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Federation announced the formation of the Professional Referee Organization (PRO), an organization that will be responsible for managing the referee program in professional soccer leagues in the United States and Canada.
The creation of PRO is designed to increase the quality of officiating in U.S. and Canadian professional leagues, develop more professional quality officials at a younger age and develop officials who will represent the United States and Canada in FIFA competitions.
Veteran English referee Peter Walton has been named General Manager of PRO. All current U.S. Soccer professional referee staff positions will transition to PRO and report to Walton, who begins his full-time work for PRO on April 2 and will be based in New York City through the conclusion of the MLS season.
U.S. Soccer and MLS will govern and fund the organization, with ongoing collaborative support from the Canadian Soccer Association and other professional leagues. Beginning this year, PRO will manage officials in the MLS and MLS Reserve games, the North American Soccer League, USL PRO and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
I had two thoughts immediately after I read the thing...
1. Fantastic, MLS has needed to take their refs to the next level of professionalism. Anything that might make refereeing better in the league in in US soccer I am on board with.
2. Another Englishman? Really? Why is it that any time MLS thinks they need help they go running to the nearest person from England? English refs, officials, managers, and players haven't been the best in the world for quite a while. What is it with us American's and our fixation on Englishmen for soccer?
Is there really no one in CONCACAF that was good enough? Mexico didn't have anyone? What's Essie" Baharmast doing these days? There wasn't anyone from Germany, Italy, Argentina.... so we get yet another Englishman? Lame.
Great news, great move by MLS. Will this Peter Walton be any good? I hope so. Kneejerk reaction aside, he may be great. Can't make MLS refs worse I don't imagine (or could it?).
No matter who they put in there, this has to be seen as a step forward for MLS.